How are Minneapolis community gardens going to make a difference? What should we know about the developers? The options?
Our city-wide series of “Sustainable We” conversations continued January 19 with a panel discussion at the community room of Gandhi Mahal restaurant in the Longfellow neighborhood.
A short video clip from audio material below:
Questions We Explored
- You can read here more about the community solar garden (CSG) concept as created in Minnesota for offering energy credit to subscribers. Why is solar energy a good investment, in our snowy winter climate? Pat Wier and Matt Privratsky responded.
- Some in the community who are debating subscribing to a CSG have asked why developers are generally offering 25-year contracts. Isn’t that a long time? Matt Privratsky of non-profit Fresh Energy responded.
- Should we be ‘holding out’ for new technologies that are coming? Larry Weiss, Pat Wier and Kerry Wang responded.
- How are low-income communities getting “in” on the savings — if stronger credit scores are required, are there options for those struggling with debt to get these reductions in energy costs? Timothy DenHerder-Thomas and Matt Privratsky responded.
- How is job training factoring in — are local developers able to train new green workers from diverse communities? Timothy DenHerder-Thomas and Pat Wier responded.
- Why doesn’t the new Vikings stadium capture solar power? Are there ways we can get involved as a community in increasing solar energy from commercial rooftops? Matt Privratsky, Pat Wier and Timothy DenHerder-Thomas responded.
- How does local community advocacy and activism play a role in highlighting a new energy future? Lee Samelson of Community Power responded.
- How did Boulder “go local” with its energy production — is that an option here? (separate story coming)
The Big Picture overview
- What are the quick bullet point Pros and Cons of solar energy in Minnesota right now? All featured speakers responded before we began a 45-minute group discussion.
- Larry Weiss, Senior System Designer, tenKSolar
- Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, Cooperative Energy Futures
- Pat Wier, TruNorth Solar, Director of Commercial Industrial Business Development
- Matt Privatsky, Senior Communications Specialist, Fresh Energy
- Lee Samelson, Community Power
Special Topic of Conversation
Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, Cooperative Energy Futures explained the less-talked-about community solar garden model being built with Shiloh Temple that not only includes low-income community members in its equation, but uses local workforce trained by Just Community Solar Coalition, affiliated with the Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. See this quick video for an explanation of the business model.